UFACTORY, a tech startup based out of Shenzhen, China, has raised over $200,000 within hours of launching a Kickstarter campaign for its xArm industrial robot. Marketed by UFACTORY as “the most cost-effective intuitive industrial robotic arm,” xArm can help boost productivity for SMEs, research labs, maker spaces and more.
Industrial robots are vital across many manufacturing industries as they enable more automation along production lines. This, in turn, reduces the need for manual labour and the costs associated with it and helps to increase productivity. Typically, however, industrial robots come with a prohibitive price tag that make the technology inaccessible to small or mid-sized businesses.
UFACTORY, which also offers its original uArm device, set out to create a functional robotic arm that offered the same benefits as top of line systems but at a much lower cost. With the launch of xArm on Kickstarter, it seems to be well on track.
The robotic arm—which is listed for between $2,299 and $5,999—can reportedly improve productivity by over 95% in small factory settings. As the company adds: “The investments spent are quickly earned back by decreased labor costs and increased production.”
In terms of more specific applications, the xArm is built for precision, meaning it can be used to operate machines, such as 3D printers, without fault. The robotic arm can also be programmed to remove 3D prints from the print bed when they are complete (something it detects using a computer vision system). In other words, you can leave your 3D printer running overnight and come in to a near finished product.
The xArm is currently available via Kickstarter in three different models: the xArm 5 Lite ($2,299), the xArm 6 ($4,999) and the xArm 7 ($5,999). On the lower cost spectrum is the xArm 5 Lite, which UFACTORY says is widely applicable for pick-n-place tasks. The slightly more sophisticated xArm 6, for its part, offers a payload of 5 kg and repeatability of 0.1 mm along with better dexterity and flexibility.
Lastly, the xArm 7 comes with a built-in Harmonic Drive with 17bit Multi-turn Encoders, which enables human-like flexibility. Still priced much lower than traditional robotic arms, the xArm 7 is purportedly well suited for AI research, service automation, filming and more.
The robotic arm is also easy to assemble and is made from carbon fiber, making it around 50% lighter than competing industrial robots. The xArm is powered by an ARM X86 chip and is programmed with an optimized control algorithm.
As mentioned, UFACTORY has already raised well over $200,000 through its Kickstarter campaign. (In the time it took to write this article it jumped from $150,000 to $218,000). There are still a small number of early bird deals left, but you’ll have to act fast!